ACIM Reading for November 26
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice
1. The Purpose of Psychotherapy1. Very simply, the purpose of psychotherapy is to remove the blocks to truth. Its aim is to aid the patient in abandoning his fixed delusional system, and to begin to reconsider the spurious cause and effect relationships on which it rests. No one in this world escapes fear, but everyone can reconsider its causes and learn to evaluate them correctly. God has given everyone a Teacher Whose wisdom and help far exceed whatever contributions an earthly therapist can provide. Yet there are times and situations in which an earthly patient-therapist relationship becomes the means through which He offers His greater gifts to both.
2. What better purpose could any relationship have than to invite the Holy Spirit to enter into it and give it His Own great gift of rejoicing? What higher goal could there be for anyone than to learn to call upon God and hear His Answer? And what more transcendent aim can there be than to recall the way, the truth and the life, and to remember God? To help in this is the proper purpose of psychotherapy. Could anything be holier? For psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it. And in his healing is the therapist forgiven with him.
3. Everyone who needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself, and his peace of mind is suffering in consequence. These tendencies are often described as “self-destructive,” and the patient often regards them in that way himself. What he does not realize and needs to learn is that this “self,” which can attack and be attacked as well, is a concept he made up. Further, he cherishes it, defends it, and is sometimes even willing to “sacrifice” his “life” on its behalf. For he regards it as himself. This self he sees as being acted on, reacting to external forces as they demand, and helpless midst the power of the world.
4. Psychotherapy, then, must restore to his awareness the ability to make his own decisions. He must become willing to reverse his thinking, and to understand that what he thought projected its effects on him were made by his projections on the world. The world he sees does therefore not exist. Until this is at least in part accepted, the patient cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions. And he will fight against his freedom because he thinks that it is slavery.
5. The patient need not think of truth as God in order to make progress in salvation. But he must begin to separate truth from illusion, recognizing that they are not the same, and becoming increasingly willing to see illusions as false and to accept the truth as true. His Teacher will take him on from there, as far as he is ready to go. Psychotherapy can only save him time.
The Holy Spirit uses time as He thinks best, and He is never wrong. Psychotherapy under His direction is one of the means He uses to save time, and to prepare additional teachers for His work. There is no end to the help that He begins and He directs. By whatever routes He chooses, all psychotherapy leads to God in the end. But that is up to Him. We are all His psychotherapists, for He would have us all be healed in Him.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 26
I will not hurt myself again today.
Let us this day accept forgiveness as our only function. Why should we attack our minds, and give them images of pain? Why should we teach them they are powerless, when God holds out His power and His Love, and bids them take what is already theirs? The mind that is made willing to accept God’s gifts has been restored to spirit, and extends its freedom and its joy, as is the Will of God united with its own. The Self which God created cannot sin, and therefore cannot suffer. Let us choose today that He be our Identity, and thus escape forever from all things the dream of fear appears to offer us.
Father, Your Son can not be hurt. And if we think we suffer, we but fail to know our one Identity we share with You. We would return to It today, to be made free forever from all our mistakes, and to be saved from what we thought we were.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #872: I am a practicing hypnotherapist, and I work with people primarily on things such as weight loss and smoking cessation. Recently, I began studying the Psychotherapy pamphlet and I have a question about a couple things that Jesus says in there. He says about goals, “It is impossible to share a goal not blessed by Christ …” (P.2.II.6:7), and then later, “Each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests” (P.2.II.8:4). I’m assuming here that he means any goal … such as losing 50 pounds? I realize that ultimately, all worldly goals must be renounced to the Holy Spirit, but if a client comes to see me for weight loss and has no interest in enlightenment, then on a practical level, how should I perceive my role and proceed in therapy? I’m assuming that I am simply to help her on a practical level in the way I normally would, but while at the same time forgiving us both in my heart and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance. Is there something else I’m not understanding?
A: Just stay focused on the purpose of getting beyond “all sense of separate interests” — that is the point of what Jesus is teaching. Any interaction at all can be used for that purpose, and all that matters is your willingness to accept that as your purpose. The other person’s motive is irrelevant in this context. The content in your mind is to learn that you are not separate from your client, and the form in which you are learning this lesson is your joint participation in the weight-loss project. All that is truly meaningful in this interaction, though, is the joining — that you would realize that you are both the same in your wrong minds, your right minds, and in having the power to choose between the two. That healing of the separation is what you both are calling out for — you share the same problem at this level. At this time in her life, your client may be able to accept healing only in the form of a bodily change, but whether or not that happens is not your concern.
Further on in the Psychotherapy pamphlet Jesus says that the goal of all psychotherapy is reached when “the therapist sees in the patient all that he has not forgiven in himself, and is thus given another chance to look at it, open it to re-evaluation and forgive it. . . . The patient is his screen for the projection of his sins, enabling him to let them go” (P.2.VII.6:3,6). That is quite different from the approach normally fostered in the world’s training. But Jesus is helping us to realize that our perception of problems and solutions has been guided by the ego, and that we need to see that that was our choice and it has never led to peace and real healing. Jesus thus is training our minds to perceive in accord with his vision, which sees us all as the same.
Q #873: Re Question #613: I am confused about the sentence “It is very important in this process not to deny any part of our experience, and not to try to change it on the level of form.” We cannot deny what we experience in our illusion because we actually do believe that it exists. If I see a dangerous situation then I will try to do whatever I can to make sure that no one is harmed. I also realize that I can not change anything that I perceive because it is something that has already happened in the past and I am just reliving it. Now how is that for a Catch-22? So, on level 1 I have created a scenario which on level 2 I then decide to experience. If on level 2 I try to change the experience which had previously been created on level 1, then all I am doing is feeding the illusion because what I create on level 2 is ego based and just keeps me apart from my true identity. Is that about it?
A: The sentence you quote is based on the phrase found in the text: “…seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7). In A Course in Miracles, Jesus is teaching us that we are minds, not bodies. For that purpose, the Course focuses only on the mind. Remembering this when applying the Course to everyday experiences helps to avoid the confusion of form and content. The statement “…not trying to change it on the level of form” does not mean not to rescue a drowning person or not to make home improvements. It means not believing that changes in form have any effect on the mind; an illusion is an illusion is an illusion. Therefore, there is no creation within the illusion. The past that is being relived is the choice for separation, projected out in a multitude of made up forms which vary within the same moment, the same lifetime, or from one lifetime to another. As we are told in the text: “Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love… Such is each life; a seeming interval from birth to death and on to life again, a repetition of an instant gone by long ago that cannot be relived (T.26.V.13:1,3). A thousand times zero is zero, no matter how good the form may be, nor how “helpful” certain activities seem to be. Saving a body from physical harm does nothing, because bodies do nothing (See:T.19.IV.C.5, T.24.IV.2). Neither does the body impede the mind’s ability to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit, which is the only decision that can be made. Once the ego is chosen, any experience will be interpreted in support of the ego’s thought system of separation. It is not the experience that is chosen, it is separation. That is why we are told we need to change our minds, not the world nor the experience. Thus, the reason you cannot change what you perceive is that it exists only as a projection of a choice in the mind.
It may be helpful to identify these levels as the level of the mind and the level of form. Salvation is not found in form, because nothing external to the mind has any effect on it. This is the direct opposite to the ego’s belief that salvation/happiness, and relief from the misery of separation can be found in the world. This explains the ego’s endless and exhausting search for solutions, changes, and improvements in everything from a house to a relationship, in an attempt to fix the problem where it is not. In this we find a good example of the ego’s maxim: “Seek but do not find”(T.16.V.6:5). Nothing in the world of form offers happiness or peace. In looking to our minds, not the world, as the source of our interpretation of every experience in our lives, we learn to accept what Jesus tells us in the text: “Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so. Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing (T.26.VI.1:1,2,3,4). Simply remembering this whenever we are tempted to look outside ourselves to resolve conflict by fixing the world, reflects the mind’s willingness to choose the Holy Spirit instead of the ego, and will inevitably change our perception of every experience.